Wondering whether one of these fitness challenges is right for you?
We love competition – even if it’s self-imposed – and it’s created this crazy phenomenon of plank challenges, squat challenges, pushup challenges, and every combination of challenges that’s ever conceivable (yes, there’s even a burpee 5K out there if you’re interested). I say – if it works for you ride that competitive motivation as far as you can take it. If you are going to do one, be sure to choose one that is the best use of your time and doesn’t compromise results.
A little this, a little that: Variety Challenges
Variety workouts include something like a set of squats, jumping jacks, and pushups and you’re doing as many as you can in a period of time or a certain number each day. One benefit of these workouts when compared to focused challenges (more on those soon) is that you get to work different body parts so you may be doing more for your body in a given period of time. You also reduced chance of incurring a repetitive strain injury from doing the same exercise over and over again. Variety challenges are also best for you if you’re new to working out or don’t work out too often since you have less of a chance of straining specific muscles.The only downfall is that these workouts can be very challenging and you may not notice your progress as easily (if say, for example, you do pushups on day 1, and don’t revisit them until day 14), however, many challenges involve some type of weekly checkpoint where you can see how much you’ve improved. Check out the SweshFit workouts and challenge yourself to 30 days!
Focused challenges are great because you get to focus on a particular body part and work the hell out of that thing. By the time you get up to 5 minutes or so of holding a plank, your core is ridiculously strong. And if you actually get to the point of doing like 200 squats, you have legs of steel. However, one of two things is happening at this point: either your form completely sucks (there’s no way squat #190 looks as good as squat #2) or you’re spending a lot of time doing this one exercise that’s probably too easy for you.
But I Really Want to Do a Squat/Plank/Pushup Challenge
By all means, go for it! How cool is it to get to the end of the month and be able to do something you couldn’t dream of doing before? However, consider switching things up at some point. In traditional rules of weight lifting, if you can do something for more than about 10-20 reps, it’s too easy. 3 sets of that is 30-60 reps. If you’re doing some type of challenge and you get up to 60 reps, switch that thing up. Grab some weights for your squats or lunges. Do some leg lifts with your plank. One of the most popular programs out there is the 30 Day Challenge site, which lists focused challenges for different body parts.
And the winner is…
I have to admit – I’m bias toward a workout with variety, so Variety Workouts win for me. In my opinion, it’s usually the best use of your time and you see more comprehensive results. However, a Focused Workout is awesome too – or better yet, do both! Try switching it up between months if you’re feeling indecisive or want a little of both.